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"...and so I came to live my life not by conscious plan or prearranged design but as someone following the flight of a bird."                              (Sir Laurens Van der Post)

Who is Judith Koltai?

BFA (Theatre and Developmental Drama)
MA (Counselling Psychology)
Diplome Technique Corporelles Thérèse Bertherat
DMTCB (Member of the Academy of Registered Dance/Movement Therapists)

Ms. Koltai is an internationally renowned movement specialist who has dedicated her professional life to pioneering a unique approach to body movement practices in psychotherapy, education, physical rehabilitation, and the performing arts. 


Ms. Koltai is the initiator and founder of the integrative discipline Embodied Practice® and the Professional Guild and Masterclass of Embodied Practice® . 


Ms. Koltai has taught at universities, conservatories, and numerous professional workshops and conferences in Canada and abroad. Her masterclasses and workshops are open to people in all walks of life. She has presented her work in an array of national and international festivals, professional institutions, and conferences including The Theatre of Changes in Greece, the Banff School of Fine Arts, Universitatea Babes Bolyai Cluj Faculty of Theatre and Television in Romania.


As the director of Movement at Canada's National Voice Intensive from 1989, Ms. Koltai's Embodied Practice® is one of the foundational pillars of the physical practice curricula. She has made a major contribution to Canadian actor training through her mentorship of voice instructors who are now teaching an integrated vocal and physical practice. 


In 1996 Ms. Koltai introduced her Syntonics® practice in Sweden, working with a group of dedicated students/practitioners. This group created the association Rörelse i vila, Movement in Rest, and with Ms. Koltai’s permission continue to use Syntonics® in their work.


From 2002 - 2009 Ms. Koltai was a visiting faculty member and movement consultant at the National Theatre School of Canada.  She has also been a guest instructor at Compagnie Marie Chouinard. In 2003 Ms. Koltai initiated and co-founded The Cassandra Project

In 2017, Ms. Koltai was invited by Marie Chouinard, then Director of the Biennale College Dance, Venice, to be a faculty member for the 2017 Summer season. Judith taught from 2017-2019 in Venice.

She was born in Hungary in 1937. Her childhood and early education were spent in that country during the years of war and occupation. In 1956 she fled to Sweden. There, while a refugee working and raising a young child, she also trained as an actor and completed the major part of a Master’s degree in French literature.  She immigrated to Canada in 1964 and is a citizen of Canada, Sweden, and the European Union.


Shortly after arriving in Canada, Ms. Koltai enrolled in a course in Drama in Education at the University of British Columbia taught by Ms. Janie Stevenson. This led to a lasting and fruitful connection with Holiday Theatre and Ms. Koltai’s developing skills as a Creative Drama specialist. She continued her training and practice as an actor under the guidance of Ms. Joy Coghill at Playhouse Holiday as well as teaching Creative Drama for Holiday Theatre. She studied Modern Dance with the late Norbert Vesak and with Linda Rubin (Synergy Dance Company). 


In 1967 she was invited to teach at the Children's Creative Centre at Expo 67. This led to an affiliation with renowned teacher/writer in Developmental Drama, Professor Richard Courtney and a consequent BFA degree in Theatre and Developmental Drama. Her research in Movement Training for Actors in Children's Theatre was supported by a Canada Council Grant and included a teaching assignment at the National Theatre School of Canada under the direction of Joy Coghill.


Ms. Koltai's interest and research in the therapeutic applications of Movement led to a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology. In 1974 she obtained registration with the American Dance Therapy Association and subsequently, in 1984, became a member of the Academy of Registered Dance/Movement Therapists. 


During the ensuing period of the 70s she worked as part time instructor in communications at the University of Victoria and as instructor of Educational and Developmental Drama in the Departments of Early Childhood Education and Social Work at Camosun College. In the late 70s and until 1981 she was Movement Instructor for the Actor Training Programme at Camosun College. 


In 1973 Ms. Koltai began a long-lasting and impactful apprenticeship in Sensory Awareness with the late Charlotte Selver. This relationship, apprenticeship, and correspondence lasted 30 years, ending only with the death of Ms. Selver in 2003 at the age of 102. 


In 1972 Ms. Koltai met renowned T'ai Ji teacher Chungliang Al Huang and began studies with him which lasted nearly 30 years. 


In 1981 Ms. Koltai embarked on a rigorous and life changing programme of studies with Mme. Thérèse Bertherat in Paris, France. As part of this training, she also attended lectures by legendary physiotherapist Françoise Mézières.


In 1983 Ms. Koltai trademarked the term Syntonics®  to represent her synthesis of the principles and practices of Bertherat, Mézières, and Selver. 


Her inquiry into the discipline of Authentic Movement began with her developing interest and practice in Dance Therapy. She was greatly influenced by the founder of Authentic Movement, Mary Starks Whitehouse. She also studied with Janet Adler, a follower of Ms. Whitehouse and the outstanding contemporary scholar and practitioner of the Discipline of Authentic Movement. 


As her understanding and practice of Authentic Movement deepened, Ms. Koltai embarked on forging her own way and methodology. Her work with actors led to her pioneering approach in the application of Authentic Movement to the creative and performing arts, specifically to voice, text, writing, and the initiation of original work.


In her 80's, Ms. Koltai retired from teaching, continuing to offer mentoring and support to her long-time students who are committed to continue and expand on her teachings.


Judith Koltai Peavy passed away in Victoria, BC on January 29, 2024.

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